Sonya Lee Makes the Best New Handbags I’ve Seen All Year

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Ever fallen into the trap of buying a nice leather bag for a few hundred dollars only to have it fall apart or go out of style? Same.   

No more, says Stephanie Sonya Ibbitson, the creative brain behind the five-year-old handbag brand Sonya Lee. Based in Vancouver, Sonya Lee is known for cool geometric shapes (like a zip-top cylinder number) with unexpected edgy touches (like a three-digit combination lock closure). Even as Ibbitson continues to whip up designs that excite women—both for Instagram and functional IRL purposes—the designer’s bottom line is all about items that are durable, so they won’t be tossed aside come next season.

“I try not to do anything that's too trendy,” Ibbitson notes. “For example, I would never do a miniature bag. I want something that’s going to serve a purpose.” Prices range from $220 for a super-simple shoulder bag to $492 for the Rosa backpack that’s roomy enough for a laptop.

As for the durability issue, Ibbitson creates her purses out of that same oiled, vegetable tanned leather as a pair of your trusty Frye boots, which means they easily withstand rough commutes, long travel days and yes, even the sticky hands of children. Basically, Sonya Lee styles are not delicate pieces you need to relegate to a top shelf; they’re made to be carried throughout your everyday life.

But should you somehow crack the leather or find a tear at the seam, Sonya Lee will replace or repair the bag, free of cost. (That, my friends, is the beauty of a lifetime guarantee.) Otherwise, the brand will offer repairs at a rather reasonable rate for regular wear and tear, like the one customer whose duffel got caught on the baggage carousel and was banged up. Because, as Ibbitson puts it, “Longevity is key.” 

When it comes to accessories, we have to agree.

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Fashion Editor

From 2019-2021 Dena Silver held the role of Fashion Editor covering product recommendations, trends, and what you should be shopping this season.